Knitting Blog

Hand Exercises for Knitters & Crocheters

It’s getting close to that time of year when holiday crafting can take over your entire life. I know many knitters who take on almost more than they can chew, seaming and weaving and blocking into the wee hours before the gift is to be given. This kind of intense marathon of handwork can be exhilarating, but the many hours of knitting and crocheting can also leave your hands in excruciating pain.

Let me help you alleviate some of that pain with some simple hand exercises for knitters and crocheters that will help to loosen those stiff hands.

Stretch Hands - Hand Stretches for Knitters and Crocheters

These hand stretches (for knitters and crocheters alike) will keep your hands not only from aching after hours with the needles, but also to maintain flexibility and proper circulation.

Wrist and forearm stretches

Sitting at a table, extend your arms pressing your fingers against the edge of the table. Keeping your hand flat, bend wrists. Your fingers should be pointing to the ceiling. Hold this stretch for 5-10 seconds. Rest and repeat the stretch. Another version of this stretch is pointing your fingers down toward the floor.

What’s great about this stretch is that it can be done in almost any situation. You can sit on the floor and stretch your forearms by placing palms on the floor and stretching as directed or while standing by extending one arm, keeping your palm flat, and using your other hand to gently and manually stretch your forearm. Stretching Hand Against Table

Hand stretches

1. Interlace your fingers with your palms facing you. Turn palms to face out and stretch out your arms. Hold this stretch for 5-10 seconds. Rest and Repeat.

2. With the opposite hand, grasp one finger at the base and firmly tug to the tip. Repeat this for each finger.

3. Placing your hand palm down on the edge of a table, use your other hand to manually rotate your thumb. Do this in both clockwise and counterclockwise motions. Repeat on each hand.

Overall Hand Health

Our hands are obviously the most important tool we use when doing handwork.

Here are a few more ideas for your overall hand health:

  • Start each knit or crochet session with an arm and hand stretching exercise.
  • If you will be engaging in a marathon knit or crochet session, set a timer for every half hour to an hour. When the timer goes off, stop and stretch again. Vary the time based on your own comfort level.
  • Consider trying ergonomic tools. Essentially, ergonomics is preforming a task in the simplest, most efficient way possible. Ergonomic tools allow you to hold your tool in a more natural pose, therefore reducing the unnatural strain on your hand while working.

Using these stretches and remembering these tips can help you avoid hand pain all together. However, if you’ve already overdone it a bit, ice is a great anti-inflammatory. Quick ice baths (10 seconds or so) for your hands can help ease the pain and reduce inflammation.

I hope you will find some relief with these tips but remember, especially if you have preexisting health problems or are having consistent pain, consult your doctor.

Do you have any go-to hand stretches or hand health tips?


Mariana Rexroth

This was one reason I made myself learn to hold the yarn in either hand – then I can switch, use different muscles/movements. Umm…probably should add that one ought to swatch the expected switching sequence.


great idea! wish I were dexterous enough to do that though! 😀

C Cooley

Be patient and even if takes time, persevere. When my right hand hurts, due to typing at work stations which were, supposedly, fine. Admin in every office I worked in except the last office, overlooked the typist’s build. Initially and it may take far longer to complete a row, but it is not worth ignoring either pain or worse still, tingling.
I benefit from warmth and do not bend my fingers back but forwards as advised.

Try wooden or better still casein needles and thicker yarn. Knitting slowly with little gentle movements eg stretching then flicking the fingers helps and may prevent pain in later years when we finally have the time to do what we missed out in working life.

Good health,

Teresa Nagy

Thanks, Andrea. I just received this page from a fellow musician, who’s also crochets. These exercises are great for string players as well. Thanks so much!!

Kim Wu

I use these toy bumpy balls with little rubber nubs and roll it in between my hands and fingers when they get aching from knitting


My hands were painful before I learnt to crochet ?


Thanks to all who took the time to post. I am a lone knitter and I just thought I was getting old(er)… ;-). Happy New Year to All!!!


I developed tennis elbow or sometimes can be called knitters elbow


Me too! Do you have any suggestions for releving the pain?

Anne Lagache

I too was diagnosed with Tendonitis or tennis elbow. I went through physical therapy which taught me those exercises which helps a lot if you do them daily. Additionally, I have found that cubic needles or square needles helped tremendously as well as alternating with crochet and just pacing yourself.
I had severely injured my right arm three times since 2014, but I’m Much, Much better now — even better than before 2014 because I’m aware of what can hurt me again!
I do recommend seeing a doctor and telling them you hurt your arms by knitting. If you are serious, they’ll take you seriously. They’ll probably be confused, but it’s a lovely art that is long respected. They’ll come around. You’re worth it!
I hope this comment helps someone else.
Warmly, Anne


I was taught some hand & finger excercises in school typing lessons-eons ago!
They help a lot at beginning of the day & start of crocheting indeed anytime!


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